And… it’s another day of grey sky and continuous drizzle all over 🙂 Slightly warmer than yesterday, which makes it okay. It was another relatively short ride (60+kms), mostly along the same major road. For a couple kilometers, there was no bike lane though, which felt a little dangerous – as drivers here are not used to having bikes around. But a lane appeared and I followed it most of the way, with instructions like “turn right in 18kms”.
I’m seeing so many slugs on the lane, I feel like flying over Nausicaa’s forests. I try to avoid them, but I can’t guarantee there’s no casualty. This is very close to a project management : you keep your eyes down for every detail of the road two meters in front of you (potholes, wood bits, any piece of metal or glass, slugs). At the same time you make sure you are still going the right way, in order to reach the milestone (the next stop), but also looking at the elevation and path in the next kilometer, to prepare for any change. And from time to time, you check that your progress will indeed keep you on track overall (like reaching half way when you are half down the calendar). And you enjoy the view, at the same time you look out for any unannounced risk (turning car, pedestrian, stray dog…), or growing issue (muscle fatigue, thirst, change in weather, mechanical status…). It forces you to have a multi track view of the future, constantly updated in realtime. All the same, except in a project you really want to squash bugs.
Fourth day on German roads, and I have to say that overall cyclists are well taken care of (contrary to what I’ve heard – from a German ;). Sure, making us bike on sidewalks along with pedestrians is a bit strange, and bike lanes are not as great as in Holland. Still, coming from France, I’m really happy.
So, Bremen. The culture shock is always in the details. After six days on the road, I really needed to do a laundry – no need to elaborate. The closest one was three kilometers away. In Paris, you can find one every 300 meters, except in very posh districts, where they buy new clothes every day. I walk there, find it, no problem. I get a first view of the city on the way, including the much more neglected parts where the laundry is located. Back to the center by tram, ten minutes, one ticket is 2€70. When you buy a single, last minute ticket in Paris, it’s 2€, a real rip off (50% more than the normal price). It seems we are actually privileged. While I was waiting for the laundry to launder, I walk around to find something to eat, and end up in a bio supermarket. And as everywhere, the taste of everything is a bit off. Like they forgot one ingredient. Food is a real cultural marker, and many little things change from one country to the next. But bio products always taste like dirt 🙂
Apart from the occasional (okay daily) nibble, I have a strange regimen of mixing fast foods (thank god they have Subway here), along with very nice restaurants. And being French, I barge in any fine dining place with my sandals and cycling short, because I belong anywhere, and especially in restaurants. I demand to be served. I expect to be served. And I am very picky. I found a very nice Argentinian restaurant in Enschede. A very average Greek one in Kleve. When all else fails, there is always the double cheeseburger.